The life and times of Lance Armstrong
From surviving cancer to dominating the Tour de France to doping confessions
Posted: Aug 24, 2012 10:10 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 18, 2013 12:58 PM ET
Challenges have been the hallmark of Lance Armstrong's career and personal life.
He beat testicular cancer and became a role model for thousands of cancer survivors, establishing a charitable foundation that has raised more than half a billion dollars to fight the disease. And his cycling exploits, including seven Tour de France wins, vaulted him to legendary status in the athletic world.
But he has been dogged by rumours of blood doping throughout his career, and he tumbled from grace in August 2012 when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency sought to ban Armstrong from any sport that adheres to the World Anti-Doping Code. The USADA said it had "overwhelming" evidence against Armstrong, accusing him of using steroids and blood boosters to win the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005.
In October, after more detailed information on the doping investigation was released by the USADA, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong anti-cancer charity and a group of sponsors severed ties with him. Days later, the UCI —cycling's governing body — supported the USADA's recommendation to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from sanctioned competitions for life.
On Jan. 17, Oprah Winfrey's OWN network aired the first of a two-part interview between the talk-show host and Armstrong, in which the disgraced cyclist admitted to blood doping and using performance-enhancing drugs.
"This story was so perfect for so long. It's this myth, this perfect story, and it wasn't true," he said.
Here's a look at major events in Lance Armstrong's life and career.The Union Cycliste Internationale announced Oct. 22, 2012, that it supported a USADA recommendation to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
Jan. 17, 2013: In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admits not only to having used performance-enhancing drugs during multiple Tour de France competitions, but also to being the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team.
Oct. 23, 2012: Lance Armstrong changes the profile of his Twitter account, which is followed by about 3.8 million people, removing the mention of his seven Tour de France wins. The new profile reads, "Raising my five kids. Fighting Cancer. Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can." The Twitter change was the only immediate reaction from Armstrong to the UCI's decision to take away his titles.
Oct. 22, 2012: The Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's international governing body, agrees with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's recommendation that Lance Armstrong should be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life. The decision follows a report from the USADA that accused Armstrong of leading a massive doping program on his teams. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," UCI president Pat McQuaid said at a news conference.
The decision cleared the way for Tour de France organizers to officially remove Armstrong's name from the record books, erasing his consecutive victories from 1999-2005. Tour director Christian Prudhomme had said the race would go along with whatever cycling's governing body decided, and would have no official winners for those years if Armstrong's wins were stripped.
After the announcement, sunglasses maker Oakley cancels its sponsorship deal with Armstrong.
Oct. 19, 2012: Armstrong attends the 15th anniversary celebration of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity in Austin, Texas, urging supporters to stand behind the organization despite the controversy around his cycling career. "The mission is bigger than me. It's bigger than any individual."
"I am ... truly humbled by your support," Armstrong said after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,700. "It's been an interesting couple of weeks. It's been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation."
Oct. 17, 2012: Armstrong announces that he is stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so that the organization can steer clear of the controversy surrounding his career. He remains on the board of directors.
Minutes later, Nike Inc. announces "with great sadness" that it is severing ties with the cyclist, citing insurmountable evidence that he participated in doping and misled the company about those activities for more than a decade. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner," the company said in a statement.
Bicycle maker Trek, helmet and bike gear maker Easton Bell, health club 24-Hour Fitness, energy bar company Honey Stinger, energy drink maker FRS, Radio Shack and Anheuser-Busch also cancel their sponsorship deals with Armstrong. Personal sponsorships are estimated to be worth up to $18-million US a year to Armstrong.
Nike says it plans to continue its support for Livestrong. Anheuser-Busch and the sunglasses company Oakley, two other major Livestrong sponsors, had already pledged ongoing support for the organization.
Oct. 13, 2012: Armstrong is unable to compete at the Ironman World Championships due to the doping investigation.
Oct. 10, 2012: A USADA report gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, year after year, spared no expense — financially, emotionally or physically — to win the seven Tour de France titles that the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away. The report cites evidence given by 26 people, including 11 of Armstrong's ex-teammates. USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart said the cyclists were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
Oct. 1, 2012: Armstrong wins his first triathlon since his lifetime ban from officially sanctioned sporting events. He completes the Superfrog Triathlon in three hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds.
Sept. 7, 2012: Pat McQuaid of the Union Cycliste Internationale says there is no plan to challenge the decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The head of the governing body of world cycling adds that the group will propose an amnesty to help clean up the sport.
The same day, the Lance Armstrong Foundation announced that Armstrong will not be allowed to run in October's Chicago Marathon. The race is sanctioned by USA Track and Field, and Armstrong's ban prevents him from entering any events organized, authorized or sanctioned by federations that follow WADA rules.
Aug. 30, 2012: Ahead of his Sept. 5 book launch — The Secret Race, Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France, Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs — cyclist Tyler Hamilton says Lance Armstrong gave him an illegal blood booster at his house before the 1999 Tour de France. He adds that the two teammates compared notes on using performance-enhancing drugs as far back as 1998.
Aug. 29, 2012: Lance Armstrong addresses the World Cancer Congress in Montreal. He opens his speech by saying, ""My name is Lance Armstrong, I am a cancer survivor. I'm a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times." Otherwise, Armstrong largely steered clear of the doping controversy in the address and spoke instead about his experience as a cancer survivor and the work of his charitable foundation. Later, hundreds of people joined Armstrong on an hour-long training run up the Mont Royal as a way to show support for the controversial cyclist.
Aug. 25, 2012: Armstrong competes in the Power of Four mountain bike race in Aspen, Colo. In his first interview since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency disciplined him with with a lifetime ban from professional cycling and vacated his seven Tour de France titles, Armstrong said, "Nobody needs to cry for me. I'm going to be great."
Aug. 24, 2012: The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) bans Lance Armstrong for life and requests that he be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. (The decision ultimately lies with the Union Cycliste Internationale.) This comes after the cyclist dropped any further challenges to the USADA's allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005.
Aug. 20, 2012: A federal judge in Austin, Texas, throws out Lance Armstrong's lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a decision that allows the agency's drug case against the seven-time Tour de France winner to move ahead.
June 29, 2012: The USADA charges Armstrong with doping and trafficking of drugs, based on blood samples from 2009 and 2010.
June 2, 2012: Armstrong wins the Ironman 70.3 in Hawaii (Honu) in a course-record time of 3 hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds.
May 22, 2012: Armstrong wins the Ironman 70.3 in Florida with a time of three hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds.
Feb. 12, 2012: Armstrong finishes second in the Half Ironman in Panama.
Sept. 24, 2011: Armstrong returns to triathlons, finishing fifth at the Xterra USA World Championship in Utah with a time of 2 hours, 29 minutes and 25 seconds.
May 2011: On the CBS news program 60 Minutes, teammate Tyler Hamilton says Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs during the 1999 Tour de France as well as in preparation for the 2000 and 2001 races.
Feb. 16, 2011: Armstrong announces his retirement (“for good”) from competitive cycling.
May 2010: Teammate Floyd Landis sends a series of emails to sponsors and officials alleging that Armstrong was guilty of doping. Landis also says that team director John Bruyneel bribed former International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen to cover up a test in 2002 after Armstrong tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Landis also says he had witnessed Armstrong and other teammates undergoing blood transfusions, and that Armstrong had given him testosterone patches.
July 27, 2009: At 37, Armstrong finishes third overall in the Tour de France. "For an old fart, coming in here and getting on the podium with these young guys was not so bad," he says.Armstrong waves during the rider's parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris after the 20th and final stage of the 2004 Tour de France, which he won. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)
Sept. 9, 2008: Armstrong declares his return to pro cycling, with the specific aim of participating in the 2009 Tour de France.
June 2006: Texas company SCA Promotions refuses to pay Armstrong for his Tour de France victory in 2004 until allegations of doping are proven false. (The company had underwritten half of Armstrong's bonus for winning the race.) During the subsequent lawsuit, the court hears from Armstrong's teammate, Frankie Andreu, and Andreu’s wife, Betsy, who say they overheard Armstrong admitting to doctors in 1996, while he was undergoing cancer treatment, that he had used steroids, human growth hormones and EPOs while cycling. In the end, SCA agrees to pay the cyclist $7.5 million to cover his bonus plus legal costs.
July 24, 2005: Armstrong announces that he is retiring from competitive cycling.
March 2005: More allegations surface from Armstrong's former assistant, Mike Anderson, during a legal battle following his termination. In court documents, Anderson alleges he discovered a box of androstenone while cleaning a bathroom in Armstrong's apartment in Girona, Spain. Androstenone is not a banned drug, and Anderson later admitted he didn’t know whether Armstrong actually used it. The two eventually settled out of court.
2004: French journalists Pierre Ballester and David Walsh publish the book L.A. Confidentiel – Les secrets de Lance Armstrong, which alleges the cyclist used performance-enhancing drugs. In the book, Armstrong's former assistant alleges he asked her to dispose of used syringes and requested makeup to conceal needle marks on his arms.
1999-2005: Armstrong wins the Tour de France seven consecutive times.
1999: A urine sample taken from Armstrong shows corticosteroid in an amount not in the positive range. According to a medical certificate, he had used an approved cream for saddle sores that contained corticosteroid.Armstrong listens to his lawyer, Georges Kiejman, during a press conference in Paris in April 2001. At the time, Armstrong was the subject of a French judicial investigation into the alleged used of performance-enhancing drugs during the Tour de France. (Canadian Press)
1999: Armstrong takes his first Tour de France, beating Swiss rival Alex Zülle by seven minutes 37 seconds. During the race, a number of articles appear in French newspapers suggesting Armstrong used the drug peloton. These include stories by Christophe Bassons, which leads to an altercation during that year's race between Armstrong and cyclist Paul Kimmage, who made allegations that appeared in the article.
1998: Armstrong’s makes his athletic comeback by finishing fourth in the Vuelta a España, also known as the Tour of Spain.
1997: Having survived cancer, the cyclist establishes the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support people affected by the disease. The foundation would go on to raise hundreds of millions, largely from the sale of the now-iconic Livestrong bracelets.
October 1996: Armstrong is diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, which has spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. Surgeons remove his diseased testicle, and a doctor estimates Armstrong has less than a 40 per cent chance of surviving the cancer. His last chemotherapy treatment takes place on Dec. 13.
1994 to 1996: Armstrong wins several European top-tier races. At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he finishes sixth in the time trial and 12th in the road race.
1993: Armstrong wins several U.S. and European cycling races. He earns a first-stage win at the Tour de France, but finishes 97th overall after abandoning the race after the 12th stage. He pockets $1 million US for winning the U.S. Triple Crown of Cycling, finishing the U.S. Pro Championships by a record margin.
1992: Having triumphed in the 1991 U.S. amateur cycling championship, Armstrong represents the U.S. at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, finishing 14th. After the Olympics, Armstrong goes professional and joins the Motorola-sponsored cycling team. In his first pro race in Spain, he finishes last in a field of 111. Two days later in the Championship of Zurich, he finished second. Later that year he wins his first professional race, the Trophee Laiguelia in Italy.
1990: At 18, Armstrong joins the U.S. cycling team, training with coach Chris Carmichael. His first race for the team is at the Amateur World Championships in Japan where he built up an early lead, but ended up finishing 11th.
1989: Armstrong enters a cycling time trial in Moriarty, New Mexico, and breaks the course record by 45 seconds. The U.S. cycling federation invites him to join the U.S. team for the 1990 Junior World Championships in Moscow.
1988: Armstrong is the top U.S. junior (19-and-under) triathlete. He goes pro, and wins national titles in 1989 and 1990, before moving out of the junior triathlon category into adult competition.
1987: At 15, Armstrong enters the 1987 President's Triathlon in Texas, an adult competition, and finishes 32nd. Triathlete magazine names him the U.S. rookie of the year.
1984: Armstrong starts training for triathlons. At age 13, he wins the Iron Kids Triathlon.
1983: Armstrong places fourth in the Texas state 1,500-metre freestyle swim competition.
Sept. 18, 1971: Armstrong, whose birth name was Lance Edward Gunderson, is born in Plano, Tex., to Linda Gayle and Eddie Gunderson.
Corrections and Clarifications
- This story originally indicated that during a 60 Minutes broadcast, George Hincapie disclosed that he and Armstrong had supplied each other with performance-enhancing drugs. Hincapie was not quoted directly, rather 60 Minutes said it had obtained this information from an undisclosed source. Aug. 24, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
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